One Adjective Writers Ought to Avoid

What adjective do writers use that gets my hackles up?


Really? you might ask.

What’s her problem? you might think.

The word itself is a fine one, meaning to direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something. I’m all for that.

What saddens me is when I hear someone refer to herself an aspiring writer.

That’s a strong statement I know, but allow me to explain.

I’ve been organizing my writing room recently and ran across an old return address label that read: Keli Gwyn, Aspiring Writer. At the time I was using those labels, that title fit. I dreamed of being a writer, but I’d not declared myself one and had not begun writing my stories. Sure, I wrote personal letters, grocery lists, and even an occasional article for our church newsletter, but I wasn’t writing with a goal of publication.

When I decided to turn my longtime dream of being a writer into reality five years ago, I stopped using those labels. Why? Because I was a writer.

The day I wrote the first words of my first story, I’d achieved my goal. I was no longer aspiring to be a writer. I was writing stories with a new goal, that of seeing them published so others could enjoy my efforts. I was aspiring to be published, but that’s different from aspiring to be a writer.

Why is this so important to me? Because I feel those who are actively writing but use the term aspiring before their title aren’t acknowledging what they’ve achieved. Those who have embarked on their writing journeys have overcome many things: inertia, fear, doubt, procrastination, and lack of confidence to name a few.

They’ve embraced their creativity, unleashed it, and are nurturing it. They’ve exhibited courage. They’ve done something many aspiring writers only dream of doing.

Taking the step of declaring ourselves writers can be a difficult for some of us, but one that can boost our confidence and bring us joy. We’re no longer wanna-be’s. We’re writers, and we’re a talented, generous, fun bunch of people who can wear our title with honor.

• • •

Have you aspired to write, knit, scrapbook? How did it feel when you took the step and went from aspiring to doing? Was it scary, or did you forge boldly ahead?

If you’re writing, have your declared yourself a writer? Do you agree or disagree with my take on the word aspiring?


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in Writing & Promotion. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to One Adjective Writers Ought to Avoid

  1. Wendy says:

    I’ve always felt the same way about that word. Fun to have you put it in plain English here.

    Have a great weekend, Keli!
    ~ Wendy

  2. Yes! I agree!

    At the first writers conference I ever attended, the leader asked, “I assume everyone in this room is here because they’re aspiring writers.” And everybody just sort of nodded along with the idea. But I whispered to the person beside me, “I’m not aspiring. I AM a writer.” I kept waiting for the leader to correct himself and make the same point you just did here, but he never did. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Have a great weekend, Keli!

  3. It’s scary to boldly proclaim that I’m a writer when I don’t know the outcome of this dream. But, like you pointed out, when we write, we are in fact writers. Now I just need to get comfortable referring to myself as a writer…out loud! 🙂

  4. I agree! However, it has been tough for me to tell people I’m an “author.” It just sounds so official.

  5. the writ and the wrote says:

    I only recently (like within the last couple of months) declared myself a writer. I no longer tell people I’m unemployed. I’m technically not anyway – I have a job, in addition to writing. It was an interesting transition, though. I’m not 100% sure I believe it fully.

  6. candidkerry says:

    Hi Keli,

    I tend to say “freelance writer” or “aspiring author,” but I think you make a great point. Once we’re writing, we’re writers.

    Hope you have a Taco Bell-full weekend! 🙂


  7. I enjoyed reading this, Keli. I just finished leaving a comment on another blog yesterday which dealt with what we call ourselves. I believe those people who say, “You wrote a book? I have an idea for a book but just don’t have the time to write it,” are the “aspiring writers”. We, on the other hand, who have sat our booty in the chair and written a book and finished it, queried it, got or didn’t get an agent, pubbed it or not, are the writers/authors. And we should be proud!

  8. Beth Vogt says:

    I was, at one time, an aspiring knitter.
    Then I learned I didn’t have a) the talent or b) much want-to.
    So I stopped aspiring.
    Same is true with tole painting.
    And sewing.
    And all crafts in general.
    It boils down to a critical mixture of time, talent and passion–and there’s a limited amount of each.
    I went looking for the perfect mix–and found it in writing.
    I had a certain amount of time–never enough, mind you. Some talent–that I keep perfecting. And a whole lot of want-to (or passion.)
    And that’s what moved me from aspiring writer to published.

  9. Susan Mason says:

    Never thought about it before! Interesting!

  10. Rita Garcia says:

    Keli, thanks for sharing your insight on the word aspiring.
    I will never use the term aspiring writer again. Wow, you’ve blessed my day!

  11. I’m a writer. Maybe a confused, struggling, bungling writer, but a writer indeed. Thank you for a great post. I hate to see writers calling themselves aspiring writers. We are not wannabes; we are writers. Blessings to you, Keli…

  12. Thanks for this post, Keli – – and I completely AGREE!! ~ Since my “identity” for so many years was “Kindergarten teacher” I had to get used to proclaiming that I’m now a writer. But I must admit–it was actually my kiddos who would mention to me that they’d told their friends “My Mom is a writer.” 🙂 After hearing those words from my children, it did indeed confirm my new profession!

  13. territiffany says:

    Totally agree!

Comments are closed.